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Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People

Arlene Dávila
With a New Preface Foreword by Junot Diaz
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 330
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  • Book Info
    Latinos, Inc.
    Book Description:

    Both Hollywood and corporate America are taking note of the marketing power of the growing Latino population in the United States. And as salsa takes over both the dance floor and the condiment shelf, the influence of Latin culture is gaining momentum in American society as a whole. Yet the increasing visibility of Latinos in mainstream culture has not been accompanied by a similar level of economic parity or political enfranchisement. In this important, original, and entertaining book, Arlene Dávila provides a critical examination of the Hispanic marketing industry and of its role in the making and marketing of U.S. Latinos. Dávila finds that Latinos' increased popularity in the marketplace is simultaneously accompanied by their growing exotification and invisibility. She scrutinizes the complex interests that are involved in the public representation of Latinos as a generic and culturally distinct people and questions the homogeneity of the different Latino subnationalities that supposedly comprise the same people and group of consumers. In a fascinating discussion of how populations have become reconfigured as market segments, she shows that the market and marketing discourse become important terrains where Latinos debate their social identities and public standing.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95359-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    Junot Diaz

    Recently a group of Latino marketers at a large advertising agency invited me to speak about my work and my vision of contemporary Latinidad. It was one of the stranger requests I’d received as an artist. Normally I speak at schools, sometimes to book clubs, and on a few occasions in prisons; but this group of young Latinos clearly felt beleaguered inside their corporate labyrinth and thought I’d be able to say some things that would complicate the Latino formula being pushed onto them from their corporate bosses. I went primarily out of curiosity (and because a friend inside the...

  6. Preface to the 2012 Edition
    (pp. xxi-xxxviii)
    Arlene Dávila
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    “Latinos are hot, and we are not the only ones to think so. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, and why not? We have the greatest art, music, and literature. It’s time we tell our stories.” With these words, actor Antonio Banderas welcomed all to the first advertising “Up-Front” presentation by the Spanish TV network Telemundo. Summoning advertisers to “jump on the bandwagon,” he echoed a promise that is repeatedly heard in corporate headquarters and at advertising conventions alike: that Latinos are the hottest new market and that those who target them will not regret it. That Latinos are...

  8. CHAPTER 1 “Don’t Panic, I’m Hispanic”: The Trends and Economy of Cultural Flows
    (pp. 23-55)

    Hispanic marketing is now a multibillion dollar industry, spread throughout Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, and every other center with a large concentration of Latina populations. Some thirty-five years ago, however, what is now considered one of the fastest growing segments of the marketing industry was primarily fueled by a handful of recently arrived immigrants of mostly Cuban origin who struggled to promote the profitability and even existence of this language- and culture-specific market. This first generation has since attained an almost mythic status in the Hispanic advertising industry. They are considered its founding figures and credited both with...

  9. CHAPTER 2 Knowledges: Facts and Fictions of a People as a Market
    (pp. 56-87)

    Having reviewed some recurring issues affecting the Hispanic marketing industry, let us now turn to the issue of definition and attempt to address who is a Latino/Hispanic and what constitutes the so-called Hispanic market. To do so, we need to investigate the particular knowledges and understandings of the market that inform the work of Hispanic agencies and advertisers in the industry at large. I refer to the stereotypes, clichés, and dominant ideas about Hispanics that are circulated in the industry, which give form to the “truth” about Hispanic consumers, informing their representation and the ways they are sold to prospective...

  10. CHAPTER 3 Images: Producing Culture for the Market
    (pp. 88-125)

    So reads an ad published inHispanic Business, Latina,andPeople en Español, among other Latina/Hispanic magazines, its final note an exhortation totrustFord Motor Company. Juxtaposed with the narrative are photographs, images of a woman, an attractive, fortyish brunette, dressed in relaxed contemporary clothes, alongside pictures of a pizza, a hamburger, some palm trees, two teenage youths (her children, perhaps?), and three brands of Ford luxury cars, to underscore the seemingly contradictory picture of a contemporary-looking, middle-aged woman who holds dear her traditional values but nonetheless likes hamburgers and can afford a luxury Ford car (figure 6).


  11. CHAPTER 4 Screening the Image
    (pp. 126-152)

    So far readers may think that Hispanic advertising agencies were solely responsible for the commercial portrayal of Hispanics and for generating the different formulas for their representation. In reality, however, these images emerge from active negotiations between Hispanic agencies and their clients, processes in which the agencies’ insights and recommendations are often subordinated. These issues repeatedly came to the surface during conversations with creatives, producers, and other staff involved in the creation of ads, particularly when discussing their assessments of their work and that of others, and their criticisms of the Hispanic advertising industry, which many saw as implicated in...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Language and Culture in the Media Battle Zone
    (pp. 153-180)

    Once produced, nationwide TV ads are placed in Spanish TV, a world equally fraught with contention. The letters quoted in the epigraphs, sent to the editor ofHispanic Magazinein reaction to an earlier article announcing the development of the first television programming service targeting bilingual and English-dominant Latinas, provide a glimpse of the struggles that are commonly waged in this front.¹ At their core is the role of the Spanish language and Hispanic/Latina media as conduits of Latinidad. These are issues that the Spanish-language TV networks have historically drawn from and made central to their self-presentation, and that have...

  13. CHAPTER 6 The Focus (or Fuck Us) Group: Consumers Talk Back, or Do They?
    (pp. 181-215)

    Given the previous critical overview of the commercial representation of Latinos, don’t consumers still identify with, feel engaged by, and get pleasure from these productions? What, after all, draws people to images that I have argued scarcely represent them? From the growth of Hispanic marketing, we could easily assume that audiences are indeed attracted by these images. After all, despite the lack of statistics confirming the success of any specific marketing campaign, advertisers have continued to advertise to Hispanics because they have received enough assurance through sales that such advertising is indeed appealing to Hispanics.¹

    Yet how people view these...

  14. CHAPTER 7 Selling Marginality: The Business of Culture
    (pp. 216-240)

    The preceding quotations, all drawn from a single multicultural market booklet (Rossman 1994: 48, 91, 142–43), bring to the fore an issue that summarizes and draws together the central concerns of this work. Although family values and religiosity are associated in popular culture with good old Americana, it is ethnic consumers who are most often presented by marketers as family-oriented, traditional, and brand-loyal, which, in marketing, serves largely as synonym for conservative consumers. We have examined these issues in relation to Hispanics, yet it takes only a glance at how Asian and African American consumers are discussed and represented...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 241-258)
  16. References
    (pp. 259-282)
  17. Index
    (pp. 283-289)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 290-290)